Hydra Rebetiko Conference 2001 - Report










A Report on the Conference


"Researching Rebetika: Present Projects and Future Prospects"

held on the Island of Hydra, 18-21 October 2001



I offer the following description of our activities. Partly as a record for people who could not attend the Rebetiko Gathering. Partly as a company report for those organisations which supported and funded our activities. And partly as a signpost to the future – our next Hydra Conference will be held on 18-21 October 2002.




The Conference had several aims, and they were achieved beyond all expectation.


Those aims were:


(a) To create and develop serious international academic collaboration in researching Greek music and rebetiko in particular. And to produce a book of Research Papers on the subject.


(b) To use the new technologies of the Internet, e-mail, MP3, digital video etc, to build a horizontal network of communication between rebetiko researchers, musicians, singers, film-makers and music-lovers. To emphasise the international aspect of that communication.


(c) To bring together Greek and Turkish musicians and singers as a way of highlighting the Asia Minor roots of rebetiko music..


(d) To invite the islanders of Hydra to share the experience of our Conference. Namely, to organise open-access rebetiko film shows and one free concert with the best musicians we could bring.




(a) international academic collaboration


Despite the atmosphere of world war that was breaking around us, we had a good international representation of academics. Speakers came  from Greece, Britain, Turkey, Hungary, Norway and the USA. Some of our speakers were forced to cancel at the last moment because of flight uncertainties, but we had about 60 people in attendance. Papers of a high quality were presented. The list of papers is presented at the end of this Report.


In particular we are proud to have mobilised the younger generation of rebetiko researchers. This field has for long been the province of the old guard, with long-standing mutual hostilities and corporative interests.


Fourteen formal presentations were made, and those will be published in book form during the course of this year. We are looking for sponsorship to help with the costs of publication.


(b) a horizontal network of communication


We established a Website for the Conference (http://www.geocities.com/HydraGathering), which proved to be a useful mobilising tool. That site will be further developed to house an Archive section, in which Rebetiko-related research materials can be accessed by people around the world.


The participants at the Conference have exchanged e-mail addresses, and already new creative projects are arising out of the very fruitful encounter that we had.


We were particularly honoured to have the world premiθre of a fine new French-Greek film about Rebetiko – Luc Bongrand's "Nuit Sans Lune". We were also astonished by the work done by Antoine Carolus on his Interactive Rebetiko Database (he received a standing ovation for his presentation). Already the new-technology possibilities can be seen in the Rebetiko-related Websites that Antoine is setting up.


[He has placed a photo archive at http://www.geocities.com/HydraGathering2001 and also a link to his own Dechiotification site. He further intends to make available a Rebetiko Database on the Internet.]


(c) bringing together Greek and Turkish performers


The Saturday night concert was magnificent. At the Douskos restaurant it was standing-room only. In addition to our Conference attendees, more than 250 Hydra islanders joined us for the concert, and Mr Douskos assured us that such an event had never been seen on the island. We had decided to bring some of the best musicians in Greece, and the band list included Sofia Papazoglou – main singer; Kyriakos Gouventas – violin; Manolis Pappos – bouzouki, singer; Achilleas Persides – kithara; Yiannis Alexandris – outi – kithara – baglama – singer; Andreas Tsekouras – accordeon – baglama – banjo – mandola tenore. A notable part of the programme was a special dedication to the music of Kostas Kaplanis.

The music continued from 9.30pm to way past 4 o'clock the following morning. I am happy to report that we filmed the entire concert on digital video. We also recorded all the music on high-quality 8-track digital recording. This will enable us to make both a film and a CD of the Concert.   


I think none of us will forget the wonderful presence of Muammer Ketencoglou (accordionist) and Ivi Dermanci (singer) from Istanbul, and the contribution which they made throughout the Gathering.


Muammer is blind, and in two memorable sessions he played together with Hydra's resident accordionist, Mr Doulis, who is also blind. He also played several songs for the island's Ladies' Choir in the Melina Mercouri Hall, a wonderful moment which we hope to repeat as part of a formal concert next year.


We shall also not forget the presence of MooSooToo, who played for a solid 12 hours non-stop during the extended Sunday jam-session. Together with the massed bouzoukis and baghlamadhes of the Athens-based Rebetiko Forum. And our very own English bouzouki-maker, John Harrison from Yorkshire…  


Sadly I have to report that Ali Fuat Aydin and Cenk Guray from Ankara were not able to attend, because the Greek Government refused Ali Fuat a visa. We hope that this will not happen again next year.




The Mayor and Municipality of Hydra supported our Conference fully.


We therefore designed part of our Gathering as a present to the people of Hydra – a thank-you for having offered us their hospitality.


Apart from the Saturday night concert, we also arranged a harbourside music session at the Latini Bar on the Sunday, which was open to everyone, and was much enjoyed by all. The Conference itself, and the film-projection sessions, were also open to the islanders free of charge.




We chose Hydra for our Gathering for several reasons. Partly because the island is so beautiful. Partly because it has easy access from Athens. But most of all because the island has no motor cars, no motor scooters, no motor bikes. It is a place of quiet and calm – which means that singers and performers can make music in the streets without needing to use amplification. And that is our preferred way of hearing our music.


We had unforgettable nights of music. And friendship. And I should add that the weather was utterly perfect.




Originally the plan was to repeat the Gathering in two years time – in 2003. However EVERYONE said that they want the next one to be sooner.


Therefore we have decided to make the Hydra Rebetiko Gathering an annual event.


We have already booked the Melina Mercouri hall for the weekend of 18-21 October 2002, and I have begun contacting speakers around the world in order to plan next year's programme.


The 2002 Conference will feature several new projects. These will include the following:


(a) A special section dedicated to performance of Karaghiozis puppet theatre, in which we hope to collaborate with Mr Evgenios Spatharis.


(b) Special workshops on the musical techniques of rebetiko ( bouzouki, baglama, guitar, and voice techniques).


(c) A session on musical instrument-making, in which we hope to collaborate with the Museum of Greek Musical Folk Instruments.


It is now clear that, even with a small amount of publicity, the Hydra Rebetiko Gathering can grow into a major event in the Greek musical calendar. We are committed to building it during the years to come – but at the same time we intend to keep the very special qualities of informality and intimacy which made the Gathering such a pleasure this time.




Many people helped to make the Hydra Rebetiko Gathering a success. We would particularly like to thank the Mayor of Hydra Constantinos Anastopoulos and his team. Thanks are due to Matina Dilaveri who set the ball rolling. And especially to Anna Roussi and Kyria Georgia  of the Hydra Development Office (without whose help our Conference simply would not have happened). At the Greek Embassy in London Nikos Papadakis and Eleni Dracopoulou did wonders to smoothe our path to the Ministry of Culture. And at the Ministry we are grateful to Mrs Hajinicolaou and Mrs Pitsaki. For travel arrangements we thank Olympic Airways, and in particular Kostas Konstantinidis (London) and Vassilis Gougoulidis (Istanbul) who went beyond the call of duty. In Athens Lambros Liavas and Sophia Arsenidou of the Museum of Folk Instruments performed small and life-saving miracles on our behalf.


We thank John Lyras of the Paralos Shipping Company, for kindly contributing to the travel costs of our cinematographer Emilio della Chiesa. For having organised a team of contributors from the Panteion University, we thank Nikos Kotaridis. Special thanks are due to the organiser of our musicians, Andreas Tsekouras, for hours of unpaid labour. I should add that Kelsey Edwards of  SaronicNet helped splendidly with arranging accommodation on Hydra. And last but not least we thank the Modern Greek Section of the University of Cambridge and David Holton who provided the original seed sponsorship.


Finally, to conclude, a very big thank-you to everyone who attended the Gathering, despite long and difficult journeys and despite real fears of travelling at this time of war. The fact that we all arrived on Hydra and had such a rich and rewarding time is a testimony to the creative and uniting power of music. I look forward to seeing you all again next year.


Ed Emery

London – 31.x.01


















MooSooToo playing together with Muammer Ketencoglou and the musicians of the Rebetiko Forum

Hydra Rebetiko Gathering, October 2001



Appendix 1: List of Speakers


[For various reasons, at the last minute some of our speakers were not able to attend.

Speakers are listed alphabetically as follows:]


1.  ElenI AndrIakaIna: "Thoughts on a Historical Sociology of Rebetiko and of "Rebetology": Rebetiko as a Cultural Object"

2.  ALI FUAT AYDIN: "The Characteristics of the Music of Asia Minor Greeks and the Effects of "Population Exchange" in Greek Music: A Comparative Approach"

3.  LUC BONGRAND: Presentation of a new Franco-Hellenic Rebetiko film: "Nuit sans lune"

4. ANTOINE CAROLUS: "Project for an Interactive Contributive Rebetiko Database"

5. ED EMERY: "The Current State of Research into Rebetika"

6.  COSTAS FERRIS: "The Rebetiko Minore: The Magical Marriage of Oriental Monophony and Western Harmony"

7.  STATHIS GAUNTLETT: "Mammon and the Muse: Rebetika as a Marketing Construct."

8.  CENK GURAY see above, joint paper with ALI FUAT AYDIN

9.  GAIL HOLST-WARHAFT: "Rebetika Re-Orientalised: Its Development as World Music"

10. MUAMMER KETENCOGLOU: "Shared Influences in Turkish Music and Rebetika"

11. NIkos KotarIdIs: "From Rebetiko song to 'Skyladhiko'"

12. PANAYIOTIS KOUNADHIS: Title to be announced

13. YANNIS KOURIS: "The Representation of the Figure of the Koutsavakis / Mangas in the Greek Shadow Theatre Tradition"

14. DIANE MUELLER: Title to be announced

15. Giorgos Nikolakakis: "Ideological and Methodological Approaches to Rebetiko: The contribution of local paradigms of Crete and Lesbos"

16. LeonIdas OIkonomou see above, joint paper with NIkos KotarIdIs

17. PANAGHIS PANAGHIOTOPOULOS: "The Slipperiness of Rebetiko: The Neutralisation and Idealisation of Rebetiko"

18. NIKOS PAPACHRISTOPOULOS: "Mockery and Deceit in Rebetiko Song"

19. ANASTASIA VALENTINI RIGA : "Modern Greek Society and Rebetiko Song: The Social Representations of a Simultaneous Birth"

20. KATALIN SZABO: "The Topography of Rebetiko"

21. KIRSTI THORSEN: "Ya sou manga mou dervisi: Sufi Symbolism in Rebetiko Culture"

22. Daphne Tragaki: Title to be announced

23. VasILIs Vamvakas: "The Entertainment Parameter of Rebetiko: Humour as a Means of Organising Subjective and Social Opposition"

24. YannIs ZaImakIs see above, joint paper with GIorgos NIkolakakIs


Appendix 2: Concert Programme



to be held at the Xeri Elia ("Douskos") Restaurant

on the Island of Hydra, Saturday 20 October 2001




Sofia Papazoglou – main singer

Kyriakos Gouventas – violin

Manolis Pappos – bouzouki, singer

Achilleas Persides – kithara

Yiannis Alexandris – outi – kithara – baglama – singer

Andreas Tsekouras – accordeon – baglama – banjo – mandola tenore

Also performing will be our guests from Turkey

Muammer Ketencoglou – accordion and Ivi Dermanci – singer

Ali Fuat Aydin and Cenk Guray – baglamadhes

together with the London-based rebetiko group MooSooToo




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